Friday, May 18

Writer's Rejoice!

publishing industry

In her latest blog post, The Business Rusch: The “Brutal” 2000-Word Day, Kris Rusch discusses the beak future traditionally published writers are facing, even bestselling writers. Given this, you might be puzzled by my blog title: Writer's Rejoice. I promise I'll get there.

Overall, the amount of money traditional publishers have made is not going down, if anything it's going up, while at the same time print sales in every category are going down. Of course what's making up the difference is the burgeoning ebook market.

The big question: What effect are fewer print sales and ever increasing digital sales having on writers?

The answer: It's not good. Since traditional publishers give much lower royalties and few advances for ebooks, writers have to work more to earn the same amount of money.

But that's not all.

Because of indie writers, traditional publishers find their market shrinking. One consequence of this is that publishers expect authors to sell a higher percentage of their print runs. If they don't, they're dropped.

So, is the outlook for writers going from bleak to absolutely abysmal? No, it's not. There's some very good news hidden in the numbers. It's this:

In order to make a living as a writer you don't have to be traditionally published.

Terri Giuliano Long writes:
Today, many talented authors choose the self-publishing route and they do it for a variety of reasons. Jackie Collins recently shocked the literary world with her announcement that she planned to self-publish a new, rewritten version of her novel "The Bitch". “Times are changing,” Collins said of her decision, “and technology is changing, so I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self-publishing.”

Industry superstars like New York Times bestselling authors Barbara Freethy and C.J. Lyons use self-publishing platforms to market their out-of-print backlists. Other authors are drawn to self-publishing because of its flexibility, the ability to publish within their own timeframe, for instance—perhaps to leverage topical interest or mark an anniversary. Others authors self-publish out of a desire for artistic control.

Self-publishing can also be a practical way to build an audience. Today, publishers expect authors to have a solid platform. By self-publishing, emerging authors can build the fan base necessary to attract a traditional publisher for their next work. Other authors, long-timers as well as newbies, feel they can make more money on their own. At $2.99 a pop, authors earn nearly $2.00 on every eBook sale. Even at 99¢, with average royalties of 33¢ to 60¢, earnings on a hot-selling book can quickly out-pace the meager advance offered to all but the superstars by a traditional house.
- Sticks & Stones: The Changing Politics of the Self-Publishing Stigma
I think the mantra of the writer these days is: be flexible. Seek out new markets and experiment.

Hopefully, despite the doom and gloom we're hearing about the publishing industry these days (Simon Says, Agent Fail) it is a time for writers to rejoice and embrace the new.

Well, that's my two cents.

Note: After I finished the rough draft of this post I noticed Joe Konrath posted a blog that touches on a few of the same issues: Exploited Writers in an Unfair Industry. Joe gives a great summary of the state of publishing today and how we got here. Well worth the read.

Related articles:
- Writers: Don't Despair
- Writers Despair

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